Visitors have flooded to Sarajevo keen to be a part of history. It was in the Bosnian capital 100 years ago to the day where Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, sparking the First World War.“You know, it’s unlike anything else,” gushed Joe Eason, a history teacher visiting from the US. “To be able to be here a hundred years after this very important event, to be able to see it, see the place firsthand, sort of stand in the very footsteps of [Gavrilo] Princip and these others, the Archduke and Sophie. It’s a tremendous experience and something that I won’t forget,” he explained.
The Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra played music harking back to the era of the Habsburg Empire at the official commemoration ceremony in the city.
Many Bosnian Serbs stayed away from that event, holding their own in honour of Princip, the man they consider an emancipator more than an assassin.
“One hundred years ago, the shot fired by Gavrilo Princip was not a shot against Europe, or us – it was a shot (fired) for freedom,” declared Milorad Dodik, the President of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic. “It meant the beginning of the making of complete emancipation of the Serbs in this region, and the final liberation from the tyranny of occupiers,” he said to the crowd gathered in Visegrad.
The competing interpretations of the past reflect the divisions which continue to haunt the country.